Is 'rogue' IT always a bad thing?

Is 'rogue' IT always a bad thing?

Summary: Users shouldn't be allowed to run amok and build their own services that could clash with the carefully planned architectures that run mission critical processes, right?

TOPICS: Health

There's plenty of fear and loathing out there about "rogue" services that can bring enterprises down (or at least slow things down), and governance tools vendors are starting to make a pretty good living promising to keep such beasts at bay. Users shouldn't be allowed to run amok and build their own services that could clash with the carefully planned architectures that run mission critical processes, right? 

Well, David Margulius just posted this interesting account of a doctor that was unhappy with his medical center's IT system, which had an electronic inpatient medical records system, but not one for outpatient records. So, he took it upon himself to jury-rig his own outpatient medical records system. 

I'm sure the hospital's HIPAA managers and lawyers would go ballistic if they learned that a doctor took it upon himself to build his own system to manage medical records. But, at the same time, David noted that a competing hospital chain was spending billions of dollars on an "official" outpatient records system that probably doesn't do much more than the one the doctor pieced together in his spare time. 

In another account I just saw, a CIO at the State University of New York credits "rogue" services with reshaping the school's distance learning system as well as other online services. "Look at the wiki and the blog. Look at Moodle’s success – how many of those deployments started life as an official top down implementation versus how many started life as a rogue implementation by an individual academic in their department?" asked Patrick Masson, CIO at SUNY's Delhi School of Information Technology. "That’s the environment we’re living in and I think an agile development approach and a SOA approach fits that real world academic computing environment."

Perhaps there's something to be said for giving end-users should be given some latitude to experiment and come up with their own solutions. Enterprise architecture and a governance structure are vital to maintaining a viable and workable IT infrastructure, but with Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 approaches swirling about, there will always be groups doing their own workaround solutions to problems. Readers, what do you think?

[poll id=6] 

Topic: Health

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  • It's a real balancing act.

    And there can be no clear set rules that cover all situations. Anyone old enough to remember when PCs started showing up in the work place 9often paid for by the person using them) will also remember the reason for it was that "IT" simply took to long to do anything.

    The second reason was that you could manipulate data in a way that met your specific needs. I remember well when people got their hands on spreadsheet apps and were finaly able to import company data and use it in new and often enlightening ways. Does that mean all spreadsheets were good or well thought out? Nope, but that only demonstrates that people were willing to take that chance in exchange for the ability to do what they needed done.

    I see very little different about it today. If you have say 1000 people using PCs and an IT staff of 10 there is no way the staff can take care of everyone's needs. At best they trying to take care of the big issues that help the most people.

    As I look at some companies today I see where IT have really locked the PCs down and severly restrict what the users may do. I also see the responce of the users. They simply move to a second PC or other device, often taking valuable information with them.

    The truth is, as much as IT would like to be in charge of every bit they just can't, users simply will not accept it.
  • sometimes, but not always

    I think "In search of Excellence" called it "simultaneous loose -tight properties"; the idea that some things are absolutely non-negotiable (no you may NOT run a private DSL link directly to your desk, even if you pay for it yourself), while others are pretty flexible (if Plan 9 toots your horn, feel free).

    Of course the trick is to know which items belong where.
  • Stifle Creativity

    Top Down implementation of anthing will always fail to meet the needs of the bottom level. Bottom up implementation may not see the big picture (i.e. HIPAA requirements) but they sure as heck meet their specific needs.

    The trick is to give the users free rein on their work; and supply them with advice and mentoring to help them with parts that wouldn't occur to them. It's like teaching a kid to drive. They take the driver's seat, and you supply the advice and suggestions from the passenger side while sweating bullets in the process.

    Nothing worthwhile was ever easy.
  • Rogue IT is Critical to Survival

    Real innovation tends to happen from the bottom up. Stifling creativity at the lower levels of the organization will ultimately impede a business's ability to compete effectively. Read more in my latest blog post entitled "Chaotic Innovation: Give Mavericks the Keys to the Castle":